Buried in the Rice affair is the very real possibility that the 9/11 Commission process was corrupted by Republicans looking to cover their mistakes. As I wrote this morning, the Commission's Executive Director Phillip Zelikow was present in 2004 when CIA Director George Tenet testified to the Commission. In that interview, which the Post reported earlier today, Tenet told the Commission of the now fateful July 10th meeting with then National Security Advisor Rice where he warned the White House of an imminent attack by Bin Laden. Somehow, even though this meeting was very important to establishing the official record of what happened prior to 9/11, this meeting never made it into the final 9/11 Commission Report.
One person will know what happened - Phillip Zelikow, who of course is now working for Secretary Rice. Did he purposefully keep this meeting from the 9/11 Commission to protect Rice and the White House?
There is one way to find out. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees should call him to testify this week. Right now. The entire credibility of the 9/11 Commission is at stake. For if something of this magnitude was manipulated, what else may have been altered by Zelikow or other staff?
Given the appearance of tampering with a grave and serious national security matter, Speaker Hastert and Senate Leader Frist should demand an immediate investigation into what happened. This cannot wait until after the election. They should task the two Intelligence Committees with a limited and brief task of bringing Zelikow, Rice, Tenet and Cofer Black to the Congress this week and see what can be learned.
The nation needs to know immediately if the 9/11 Commission process was corrupted. If the Republicans do not create such a process right away they are admiting their complicity into a terrible cover up of one of the most tragic events in American history.
This morning's Post has a story that deepens the mystery of how everyone in Washington forgot that the CIA director warned the National Security Advisor on July 10th, 2001 that an attack by Bin Laden was imminent.
You see this meeting, a critical and important one, was somehow left out of the 9/11 Commission Report and had never been mentioned prior to the publication of the new Woodward book. Condi Rice first said the meeting never happened; she then reversed herself and said it did, but that she forgot about it. We all then wondered how it was possible that the record of this meeting never made it into the 9/11 Commission Report. This new story makes it clear that Tenet did brief the 9/11 Commission on the meeting, that in fact he provided them slides and other papers from the briefing he gave to Condi on that July day.
1) How did the fact of this meeting fall out of the 9/11 Commission Report? Did the Commission's Executive Director, Phillip Zelikow, now a Rice staffer, fight to keep it out?
2) Rice has consistently said she was never told that summer that Bin Laden my strike inside the US. Did this briefing have such information? According to this story it did. And why does she keep saying this when the Aug 6th memo to the President clearly indicates that Bin Laden was attempting to strike in the US?
3) Did Rumsfeld and Ashcroft get the same briefing, as Sec. Rice says?
4) What specific actions did the President and National Security Advisor take upon receiving this urgent briefing on July 10th, a full two months before 9/11?
5) Isn't it now clear that Bush and his team were amply warned about the impending attacks throughout the summer and did nothing? And that the Secretary of State is simply lying about a grave and serious security matter to cover her ass?
My own belief is that the Sec. Rice's response to these matters is so insulting, full of lies and ass-covering that she must resign. Her credibility is now completely shot, as it is clear that she has been leading a cover up of information critical to our understanding of how this nation suffered a major attack, and the role she and the President played in ignoring important warnings that it was coming. She can no longer be trusted to do what is right, only what is expedient for her and the President. And in a time as challenging as these times, that is not acceptable.
The independent Sept. 11, 2001, commission was given the same “scary” briefing about an imminent al Qaida attack on a U.S. target that was presented to the White House two months before the attacks, but failed to disclose the warning in its 428-page report.
Former CIA Director George Tenet presented the briefing to commission member Richard Ben Veniste and executive director Philip Zelikow in secret testimony at CIA headquarters on Jan. 28, 2004, said three former senior agency officials.
Tenet raised the matter himself, displayed slides from a Power Point presentation that he and other officials had given to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001, and offered to testify on the matter in public if the commission asked him to, they said.
.....Very hard to say what would be behind the decision to leave it out considering that Ben Veniste was one of the Dems on the Commission. "
And of course, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, now works for Condi. Was he the one who dropped this little nugget from the report?
A sheepish spokeman for Sec. of State Condi Rice let reporters know today that the Secretary in fact did get a briefing on July 10th, 2001 from the CIA that warned her in very strong terms that a terrorist attack on American interests was imminent.
You see last night she denied the meeting took place. Today they admit that it did take place, but that she just forget about it.
Let's consider this argument. The CIA director has a private meeting with the National Security Advisory and says a terrorist attack is imminent. A month later the CIA advises the President and his team a terrorist attack in the US is imminent. A month later an attack takes place. And you forgot you warned by the CIA that this was coming, and that you did nothing about it? Are we really supposed to believe this argument from the Secretary of State? And why didn't the 9/11 Commission know about it?
This is going to get ugly for the Administration. What is the old line, it is never the act itself but the coverup that gets you?
Anyone think Rice will survive this? And does she go before the election?
As NDN's resident Brit, i like to sneak in the odd blog post about my home country. But this one happens to be relevant. David Cameron is the new leader of Britain's conservative party. This week he, and his previously hopeless party, gather for their annual conference. They will be joined by John McCain, who is to speak during the week. There he will see the Cameron political phenomenon, even if it might not be beyond McCain to spot certain items ransacked from the repertoire of the current Prime Minister.
But it is Cameron's use of new media that interests me. Yesterday he launched WebCameron. Ignore the bad pun, and have a look. Its a video rich site featuring daily clips of him talking about what he is up to behind the scene, along with clips from friends, guests and advisors (including John McCain.) The first clip features Cameron washing the dishes, the second talking about his feelings having made a speech. All are aggressively informal, unfussy and personable. Its almost as if politics has suddenly gone all Hill St Blues, complete with shaky camera work and behind the scenes footage. In an era in which trust in politics and politicians has declined, Cameron's people have clearly decided that no production values are the best proxy for trust and honesty. And i for one think the site is exceptionally effective.
Now the only question is which Presidential candidate do the same thing. My hunch? All of them.
The analysys is done by Charles Franklin, an academic at Wisconsin who is also responsible for my new favourite website - Political Arithmetik. It has all manner of fascinating graphical goodness to explore. Sadly, it also has some evidence that the President's approval rating is back up over 40%, even if this doesn't seem to be translating into movement in the generic ballot. And, as this graph nicely points out, there is more than a little dead-cat bounce about his rise.
Mark Warner has a background in technology. He was prominent at Daily Kos. He has top tier bloggers working for him. And a nice website. But this - from the Economist - is really taking the "embracing technology" approach to its limits.
Mark Warner, a former governor of Virginia who is considered a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2008, recently became the first politician to give an interview in [online imaginary world] Second Life. His avatar (also named Mark Warner) flew into a virtual town hall and sat down with Hamlet Au, a full-time reporter in Second Life. “This is my first virtual appearance,” Mr Warner joked, “I'm feeling a little disembodied.” They then proceeded to discuss Iraq and other issues as they would in real life, with 62 other avatars attending (some of them levitating), until Mr Warner disappeared in a cloud of pixels.
Condi "mushroom cloud" Rice responded in the Post to the Woodwork book relevations by - suprise! - denying all. You can judge for yourself if her story sounds at all credible. I don't think it does. But we have to recall that in Bushworld lying is a tactic, to be used as needed.
In a very provocative post about the new Woodward book, Thinkprogress raises a critical question - did our Secretary of State lie to the 9/11 Commission? And is this a crime?
At the very least it is now clear that the Administration, in covering up a high-level meeting in July of 2001 where the CIA warned about an impending attack by Bin Laden, has once again repeatedly lied to the American people about an issue of great significance, and one critical to maintaining our security.
You can feel it. You can feel the tide turning against the Administration. You can feel it in the nuance of press stories, in the willingness of leaders to challenge him, in the chatter around town.
A big new idea is settling in with the American people and political elites. It is simply that when it comes to foreign policy Bush blew it. He took a big swing and failed.
It is been a long time coming. Much of the story has been known, but it has not hit critical mass. We’ve known that he was warned about Al Qeada striking in the US and did nothing; known that they had Bin Laden at Tora Bora and failed to give the guys on the ground more troops, and that he escaped; known that they all lied in the run up the war; known that they failed to plan for the occupation; known that the occupation itself has been ripe with cronyism, corruption and silliness; known that they blamed and prosecuted a “few rotten apples” for the torturing of Iraqis when it was officially sanctioned government policy; known that their “democratization” strategy gave some of the most radical elements in the Middle East, Hezbollah and Hamas, electoral legitimacy without forcing them to disband their militias; known that the standing up of the Iraqi police and Army has been a farce; known that despite their statements otherwise, the Administration has seldom listened to the generals in the field; known that the “insurgency” was much more than a few rogue elements causing trouble; known that our failure to win the peace was turning Iraq into a version of Soviet Afghanistan, fueling the jihadists around the world.
All of this been known. But in recent weeks, these things we’ve known have come together, stuck together, and are forming a new story line. It is no longer they’ve tried hard, acted tough and are gutting it out for America. It is that they’ve blown it. Big time. Perhaps overseeing the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history.
It is hard to know the exact moment when it all tipped. Suskind’s new and remarkable book, The One Percent Doctrine, has been part of it. The insanity around the ABC movie, The Path to 9/11 has been part of it. Clinton’s appearance on Fox has been part of it. The NIE release has been part of it. The recent spate of stories about the utter incompetence and corruption of our occupation have been part of it. And now Woodward’s new book, out next week, loaded with new and extraordinary stories will accelerate it all.
However we got to this point I think the President’s credibility on security matters has been shattered, and he can’t get it back. They took a big swing, and they blew it big time.
Now what do we do? Clearly a new team, a new approach is needed. Isn’t that what elections are about?